With the praise of Greg Rusedski ringing in his ears, Alex Bogdanovic last night gained "the best victory of my career" here on the opening day of the Samsung Open. The Belgrade-born Briton, ranked 350th in the world and a wildcard entrant, despatched Jan-Michael Gambill, the American who stands at No 42 and was the fifth seed here.
"Definitely the best British prospect I've seen" was Rusedski's assessment of Bogdanovic's potential hours before the 19-year-old strode on to Centre Court. By the time he walked off again, Gambill had been beaten 6-4, 5-7, 6-4, and there was a second-round meeting with Vladimir Voltchcov, of Bulgaria, to look forward to.
At Queen's Club last week, Bogdanovic wasted several match points before losing to Anthony Dupuis, of France. Although nerves and lapses in concentration were again apparent during a second set in which he was twice a break up, he finished the fitter man.
"It's definitely my best win," he said. "I expected to feel a bit nervous on a centre court but I played really well and he couldn't hurt me. It gives you a lot of confidence."
Rusedski, who plays the No 3 seed Jarkko Nieminen, of Finland, this afternoon, rates his own chances of winning Wimbledon somewhere in the remote-to-impossible category. Yet the British No 2, who won here in 1997, harbours the hope that he might just be to this year's tournament what Goran Ivanisevic was to 2001.
A cruel succession of injuries led Rusedski to contemplate, albeit briefly, a future outside tennis, but now he pronounces himself "well ahead of schedule" for Wimbledon. Flushed with the relative success of taking a set off Andy Roddick at Queen's, his natural ebullience is resurfacing along with his sharpness -- and Ivanisevic's extraordinary success provides an inspirational example.
"Goran's was a billion-to-one accomplishment," Rusedski said. "For me to do that it would have to be one of those dreams where everyone writes you off. The magic could happen. I'd sign up for it right now if anyone could offer it. That's what's exciting about sport. There's no predictability."
Although he has played only seven matches since his nine-month absence, Rusedski has been encouraged by his form. "Queen's was a big step forward. I lost a tough match to Roddick but to take the hottest player on grass to three sets, and break him twice, gives me a positive feeling going into Nottingham and Wimbledon."
Roddick, with whom he shares the record for the fastest serve of 149mph, is among Rusedski's tips to win Wimbledon, along with Roger Federer and Andre Agassi. What about Tim Henman? "He has a great record there. We'll have to wait and see."
Arvind Parmar, the British No 3, rattled up 11 aces in his 6-4, 7-6 defeat of Paul-Henri Mathieu, of France. Parmar now faces the defending champion, Jonas Bjorkman, providing the Swede overcomes the No 2 seed, Mikhail Youzhny, of Russia.
Last year's beaten finalist, Wayne Arthurs, of Australia, won 7-6, 7-5 against Bob Bryan, of the United States, taking the tie-break 19-17.Reuse content